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Let Them Eat Birthday Cake

The best of the best artificial flavor in the world.

The best birthday cake–flavored items
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images Plus and product shots.

I’m struggling to think of a product that I would not submit to at least trying if it became available in birthday cake flavor. Floss? No, I’d have no issue with trying birthday cake floss. Cough drop? Eh, that would also be fine with me to be honest. Juul pod? Well, I’ve never Juuled, but you know what, I would consider it if there were a birthday cake flavor. The point is: I am just really on board with the trend of birthday cake as flavor. If the numbers Mars Wrigley Confectionery cited when it announced the launch of a birthday cake–flavor 3 Musketeers bar last fall are to be trusted, sales of birthday cake–flavored items grew 27 percent between 2017 and 2018. I guess I’m not the only one who can’t resist the synthetic lure of sprinkles and icing.

What is it about birthday cake that so appeals to me? What doesn’t! I know, am related to, and am voluntarily friends with some people whose preferred cake for a birthday is something weird like carrot (thinking face emoji!), but we as a culture seem to have reached a rare consensus that “birthday cake” as a general concept denotes vanilla cake with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles. On its face, this doesn’t even make sense—don’t more people like chocolate cake, if anything? The New York Times chalks it up to a few especially influential bakeries. Luckily, it also just so happens to fit my personal cake aesthetic.

It’s pretty funny that all these large companies now pour big bucks into approximating a non-traditional flavor like birthday cake, implying the existence of Willy Wonka–level flavor technology that humankind frankly is nowhere close to achieving. Because it’s not a real flavor—even I know that! And then there’s the fact that most of the things being flavored are other sweets, so you’re essentially taking one dessert, like ice cream, and trying to make it have the flavor of an entirely different dessert, when logic would dictate that you could just go get that item. Like a hot dog–flavored hamburger. It’s so bizarrely artificial that it circles back around to being delightful.

Speaking of hot dogs and hamburgers, July Fourth approacheth, and it’s noticeably a holiday with a pretty standard meal already attached to it—the aforementioned barbecue fare—but a wide opening in the category of dessert. I propose that we make birthday cake the unofficial customary July Fourth dessert. It is, after all, America’s birthday. And to help along my own declaration, what follows is my guide to the wide world of birthday cake products. I am limiting this list to products I have actually tried, but if you want to explore further, there’s no limit to what you can find: birthday cake granola, birthday cake jelly beans, birthday cake slime (I really want this), birthday cake vodka, birthday cake protein powder, sparkly birthday cake sunscreen, and even, uh, birthday cake lube. Happy birthday to us all!

Milk Bar B'Day Truffle
Milk Bar

So to begin, I think I can say definitively that Milk Bar B’day Truffles are planet Earth’s very best birthday cake–flavored snack that is not actual birthday cake. These munchkin-like treats are more portable and snackable than cake, helpful for situations when you’re on the go and still need cake, in addition to being out-of-this-world delicious. This is fitting because Milk Bar is said to be one of the bakeries that helped spawn the birthday cake trend to begin with.

Birthday cake ice cream is another crucial part of the birthday cake food pyramid. I find that the best versions are available at local ice cream shops, but the ones you find in the grocery store frozen aisle are also nothing to sneeze at. Some notables include Coolhaus’ Birthday Cake Ice Cream Sammie, McConnell’s Sprinkle Cake, Turkey Hill’s Party Cake, and Halo Top Birthday Cake.

A word of warning about candy bars: Do not be fooled by the call of the candy bar that claims to be birthday cake–flavored. Often you will see in smaller type that the bar in question is actually white chocolate. This bothers me! I know the concept of birthday cake flavoring is somewhat loose to begin with, but I do not think we can conflate it with white chocolate just because they’re both white?! Does no one have standards anymore! That said, the ones I’ve had have been pretty good. I know it’s ridiculous to be swayed by their packaging, but the fancy expensive Compartés bar is terribly cute. Trader Joe’s also sells a handsome one.

Trader Joe's Birthday Cake Popcorn 5 oz
Trader Joe’s

Speaking of Trader Joe’s! I am really impressed by its commitment to the birthday cake space. Trader Joe’s Birthday Cake Popcorn is also excellent and perhaps even innovative—who would think to combine popcorn with birthday cake flavoring? Nobel Committee, have you seen this?

Balm dotcom Birthday flavor
Glossier

And to show that I like things other than snacks: Glossier makes a lip balm called Balm Dotcom, and the line has a special Birthday one (another creation inspired by Milk Bar). It smells wonderful and is adorably packaged, which makes it all the more tragic that I lost the tube of it I used to own.

cotton candy
Chocolate Storybook

But now back to snacks. To be quite honest, Birthday Cake Cotton Candy doesn’t taste very different from normal cotton candy. But it’s not like normal cotton candy is bad; in fact, it’s great. And a birthday cake flavor completist will probably want to decide for herself.

Chobani Gimmies Best Birthday Ever, which is a type of yogurt, is technically for children but I endorse it anyway.

Annie's Homegrown Certified Organic Bunny Grahams in birthday cake flavor
Annie’s Homegrown

I bought some Annie’s Bunny Grahams in Birthday Cake on a whim recently because I saw them in the grocery store and was like, “Whoa, they have those in birthday cake flavor?” This happens to me sometimes, and I never regret it.

rice cakes
Drizzilicious

I have never much liked rice cakes or rice cake–based snacks, but Drizzilicious mini rice crisps, drizzled with birthday cake flavoring, of course, are an exception to that rule.

There’s a store in New York called , where they sell cookie dough to enjoy unbaked, including a fantastic cake batter flavor, and you can order it online too. I know it’s sort of metaphysically troubling—if it’s cookie dough … how is it also cake batter?—but it’s soooo good.